This pepper pot is from the Hoxne (pronounced 'Hoxon') hoard, the richest find of treasure from Roman Britain. Alongside the approximately 15,000 coins were many other precious objects, buried for safety at a time when Britain was passing out of Roman control. This object was one of four in the hoard.
Pepper was first imported into the Roman world from India in the first century AD, but piperatoria, the special containers for this expensive spice, are very rare finds. This example takes the form of a hollow silver bust of a woman. Although she has sometimes been described as an empress, it is more likely that she simply represents the ideal of a wealthy refined and sophisticated lady of the late Roman period. This is implied by her jewellery and rich clothing, both of which are gilded, and the scroll she holds in her left hand, suggesting she is well educated.
The pot has a disc in the base which could be turned to three positions, one closed, one with large openings to enable the pot to be filled with ground pepper, and a third which revealed groups of small holes for sprinkling.